Women's empowerment in Lao PDR rice...
The Building Income, Independence, and Empowerment for Farmers (BIIE) project in Laos seeks to empower farmers to make informed decisions and supports smallholder farmer groups to link with functioning markets to improve their income and livelihood opportunities.
Building on the success of the Enhancing Milled Rice Production in Lao PDR (EMRIP) project, SNV, with the support of the Rabobank Foundation, scaled-up the project into the BIIE project, which supported smallholder farmers and millers in 70 villages within the six districts of Savannakhet and Khammouane Provinces. The project was aimed at reducing food insecurity and increasing income and employment opportunities for smallholder farmers in these two southern provinces of Lao PDR. In Phase 1 of the project, from January 2012 until December 2014, more than 3,500 households benefitted, including 41 millers that were linked to farmer groups and getting regular supply of paddies. Results of the final evaluation conducted in January 2015 indicate the need to consolidate the interventions to ensure that all project achievements and gains are sustained towards achieving an economically vibrant and sustainable rice value chain.
Based on the assessment conducted, three major interventions need further support to ensure that project sustainability is enhanced:
1) Formalise the producer groups by registering them with accredited government agencies and strengthen their capacity to effectively manage their organisational affairs and production activities.
2) Federate the producer groups at the provincial level and formalise the federation by developing its by-laws, setting up guidelines for operations, putting in place financial and accounting systems and ultimately enhancing their capacity to access financial services.
3) Register the rice millers' association to enhance their capacity in expanding their business, mobilising resources, and improving access to finance and support services.
In Phase 2 of the project, the goal will be to strengthen producer groups and the millers association to sustain food security and increase income of small-holder farmers in Savannakhet and Khammouane provinces of Lao PDR. The objectives are as follows:
- Transform, formalise, and register twenty (20) production groups with the accrediting government agency to legalise their existence and operations and eventually federate the groups into a provincial level apex organisation.
- Strengthen the producer groups’ and federated organisation’s capacity by helping them establish organisational, financial and operating systems and procedures and support effective delivery of financial services to members engaged in commercial rice production.
- Facilitate formal organisation of 21 millers into a millers association and facilitate registration with government accrediting institutions.
- Strengthen the millers association to enhance their capacity to access finance, link producer groups and buyers, and promote commercial and sustainable rice production, processing, and marketing businesses.